Copper Mountain unveils workforce housing proposal, faces skepticism from county | SummitDaily.com

Copper Mountain unveils workforce housing proposal, faces skepticism from county

Copper Mountain Resort provided more details for a proposed major amendment to their Planned Unit Development (PUD) during the Tuesday morning work session of the Board of County Commissioners. The changes to the development plan will allow building a new deed-restricted housing complex as well as adjustments to parking and open space restrictions as part of Copper's ambitious A Lift Neighborhood project.

The main subject of discussion was the North Alpine Workforce Housing project, a planned conversion of 2.5 acres of the northern portion of the Alpine parking lot into a condo complex of 80 housing units. Fifty of those units will be for employees and 30 reserved for affordable housing.

Copper is also requesting an exception to the area's housing 35-foot height restriction to accommodate the 55-foot high condos. The proposed project map shows six buildings in a ring around a "pocket park" green area with attached playground, with separate resident parking lots flanking three sides of the complex. The development would result in the loss of 118 day-use spaces for resort visitors, as well as a soccer field.

Copper promised community benefits from the project, including more housing for employees, more affordable housing for lower income residents, and more productive use of land that is currently only used for parking.

However, Summit County planner Jessica Potter raised several concerns based on planning department analysis of the proposal. She mentioned the need for more details about the design for the 55-foot high condos to ensure they will not block or disrupt mountain views and local aesthetic, allocation of housing unit credits and how they would affect zoning requirements for density, as well as potential parking and traffic issues.

Copper offered assurances to commissioners that the final designs will take these concerns into account. As far as parking, Copper argued that they have been diligent on parking issues for the past few years, and will offer incentives for employees to utilize public transport instead of bringing cars, thereby mitigating concerns about available resident parking.

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Commissioner Thomas Davidson was not entirely convinced on the parking problem, saying that experience has shown that parking is an issue that can rarely be adequately planned for.

"We're just guessing here," Davidson said in response to Copper's assurances. "They're educated guesses, but guesses nonetheless."

Copper residents also chimed in with their concerns about the removal of the soccer field, a concern echoed by commissioners who want more details about how that particular community benefit will be adequately replaced and improved.

Copper will go back to the drawing board, consider county feedback, and present updated proposals for North Alpine in the next few months.